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Women and Migration

 | 
Deborah Willis
, 
Ellyn Toscano
, 
Kalia Brooks Nelson

Part three. Understanding pathways

9. Silsila: Linking Bodies, Deserts, Water

Sama Alshaibi

Texte intégral

1Silsila (Arabic for ‘link’) retraces history through diary, documentary and magical realism. From 2009–2016, I have explored and documented fifteen predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East, North Africa and the Maldives islands in Southeast Asia. This project was inspired by the great fourteenth-century Moroccan traveler Ibn Batutta, who traveled 75,000 miles after initially setting out to perform Islam’s compulsory Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. His meticulous notes were made over thirty years of traveling — a scientific approach to recording observations, insights and lessons all grounded in his Islamic faith that were later transcribed by a young writer, and which became al-Rihla [The Travels]. His book is considered the foundation of travel writing, and the birth of the genre of the travelogue. Set in a postcolonial context, ‘Silsila advances pressing global ecological and environmental challenges, while aesthetically and historically alluding to the geographic allure of the Middle East and North African (MENA) region, which is rich in natural resources and antiquity in some areas, but barren in others. Geometric patterning and symmetry reference the formal qualities of Islamic art, connecting the individual to the divine. By capturing my journey and my performances in the significant deserts and endangered water sources and oases in the landscape from the Islamic world, and visually referencing the spaces maliciously documented in al-Rihla, I sought to unearth a historical story of continuity, community and perseverance. It serves as a visual resistance to the cultural productions from and about the region that selectively depict contemporary narratives of fragmentation, oppression, and war. The political refugees from the Global South of today are the climate migrants of tomorrow, but in much greater number and without geographic distinction. ‘Silsila’ focuses on our geographic voice and our search connection with each other as interdependent peoples and nations plagued by an unthinkable future.

Fig. 9.1. Sama Alshaibi, Fatnis al-Jazirah [Fantasy Island], from the series ‘Silsila’, 5’ 5 3⁄8” × 8’2 3⁄8”, unique print mounted with Diasec, 2014. Courtesy of the artist and Ayyam Gallery, Dubai.

Fig. 9.2. Sama Alshaibi, Silsila [Link], from the series ‘Silsila’, 5’ 5 3⁄8” × 8’ 2 3⁄8”, unique print mounted with Diasec, 2013. Courtesy of the artist and Ayyam Gallery, Dubai.

Fig. 9.3. Sama Alshaibi, Ma Lam Tabki [Unless Weeping], from the series ‘Silsila’, 5’ 5 3⁄8” × 8’ 2 3⁄8”, unique print mounted with Diasec, 2014. Courtesy of the artist and Ayyam Gallery, Dubai.

Fig. 9.4. Sama Alshaibi, Jarasun Yaqra’ li-l-Mawt [Death Knell], from the series ‘Silsila’, 27 1⁄2” × 39 3⁄8”, inkjet pigment print, edition of 5, 2010. Courtesy of the artist and Ayyam Gallery, Dubai.

Fig. 9.5. Sama Alshaibi, Sabkhat al-Milh [Salt Flats], from the series ‘Silsila’, 47 ¼” diameter, c-print mounted with Diasec, edition of 3, 2014. Courtesy of the artist and Ayyam Gallery, Dubai.

Fig. 9.6. Sama Alshaibi, Al-Ṭariqah [The Path], from the series ‘Silsila’, 5’ 5 3⁄8” × 8’ 2 3⁄8”, unique print mounted with Diasec, 2014. Courtesy of the artist and Ayyam Gallery, Dubai.

Fig. 9.7. Sama Alshaibi, Ma Ijtama ʿat Aydina ʿala Qabdih Kan Mu ʿattal [What Our Hands Joined Was Broken], from the series ‘Silsila’, 47 ¼” diameter, c-print mounted with Diasec, edition of 3, 2014. Courtesy of the artist and Ayyam Gallery, Dubai.

Fig. 9.8. Sama Alshaibi, Wahat Siwa [The Siwa Oasis], from the series ‘Silsila’, 27 1⁄2” × 39 3⁄8”, inkjet pigment print, edition of 5, 2013. Courtesy of the artist and Ayyam Gallery, Dubai.

Fig. 9.9. Sama Alshaibi, Idha Intaha Thumma Yabtadi [If Over and Then Begins], from the series ‘Silsila’, 39 3⁄8” × 27 1⁄2”, inkjet pigment print, edition of 5, 2016. Courtesy of the artist and Ayyam Gallery, Dubai.

Table des illustrations

Légende Fig. 9.1. Sama Alshaibi, Fatnis al-Jazirah [Fantasy Island], from the series ‘Silsila’, 5’ 5 3⁄8” × 8’2 3⁄8”, unique print mounted with Diasec, 2014. Courtesy of the artist and Ayyam Gallery, Dubai.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/7975/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 256k
Légende Fig. 9.2. Sama Alshaibi, Silsila [Link], from the series ‘Silsila’, 5’ 5 3⁄8” × 8’ 2 3⁄8”, unique print mounted with Diasec, 2013. Courtesy of the artist and Ayyam Gallery, Dubai.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/7975/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 160k
Légende Fig. 9.3. Sama Alshaibi, Ma Lam Tabki [Unless Weeping], from the series ‘Silsila’, 5’ 5 3⁄8” × 8’ 2 3⁄8”, unique print mounted with Diasec, 2014. Courtesy of the artist and Ayyam Gallery, Dubai.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/7975/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 180k
Légende Fig. 9.4. Sama Alshaibi, Jarasun Yaqra’ li-l-Mawt [Death Knell], from the series ‘Silsila’, 27 1⁄2” × 39 3⁄8”, inkjet pigment print, edition of 5, 2010. Courtesy of the artist and Ayyam Gallery, Dubai.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/7975/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 120k
Légende Fig. 9.5. Sama Alshaibi, Sabkhat al-Milh [Salt Flats], from the series ‘Silsila’, 47 ¼” diameter, c-print mounted with Diasec, edition of 3, 2014. Courtesy of the artist and Ayyam Gallery, Dubai.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/7975/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 100k
Légende Fig. 9.6. Sama Alshaibi, Al-Ṭariqah [The Path], from the series ‘Silsila’, 5’ 5 3⁄8” × 8’ 2 3⁄8”, unique print mounted with Diasec, 2014. Courtesy of the artist and Ayyam Gallery, Dubai.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/7975/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 240k
Légende Fig. 9.7. Sama Alshaibi, Ma Ijtama ʿat Aydina ʿala Qabdih Kan Mu ʿattal [What Our Hands Joined Was Broken], from the series ‘Silsila’, 47 ¼” diameter, c-print mounted with Diasec, edition of 3, 2014. Courtesy of the artist and Ayyam Gallery, Dubai.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/7975/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 132k
Légende Fig. 9.8. Sama Alshaibi, Wahat Siwa [The Siwa Oasis], from the series ‘Silsila’, 27 1⁄2” × 39 3⁄8”, inkjet pigment print, edition of 5, 2013. Courtesy of the artist and Ayyam Gallery, Dubai.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/7975/img-8.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 116k
Légende Fig. 9.9. Sama Alshaibi, Idha Intaha Thumma Yabtadi [If Over and Then Begins], from the series ‘Silsila’, 39 3⁄8” × 27 1⁄2”, inkjet pigment print, edition of 5, 2016. Courtesy of the artist and Ayyam Gallery, Dubai.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/7975/img-9.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 458k

Auteur

Sama Alshaibi’s work explores spaces of conflict and the power struggles that arise in the aftermath of war and exile. Drawing from her experiences as a Palestinian-Iraqi naturalized US citizen, she uses her body as an allegorical site that makes the byproducts of such struggles visible. Alshaibi’s monograph, Sand Rushes In (2015) presents her Silsila series, which probes the human dimensions of migration, borders, and environmental demise. Silsila was exhibited at venues including the Venice Biennale, Honolulu Biennale, and Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. Alshaibi has also exhibited in solo and group shows at MoMA, Bronx Museum, Denver Museum of Contemporary Art, Ayyam Gallery, and the Thessaloniki International Film Festival. She received a Fulbright Fellowship to Palestine (2014–2015), and was named University of Arizona’s 1885 Distinguished Scholar as a Professor of Photography.

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